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DC Council To Rework ‘Non-Discrimination’ Law After Congressional Republican Challenge

The D.C. anti-discrimination law took effect Saturday after a failed attempt by Republican lawmakers in Congress to block the bill.

The law is meant to ban businesses from discriminating against employees who choose to use reproductive healthcare options, but members of Congress were concerned the law would require employers to provide healthcare coverage for things like abortion or birth control, despite their moral objections.

City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told reporters Monday during a press conference he plans to soothe these worries by adding language to the permanent version of the legislation, which will be added in to the city’s upcoming budget, the Washignton Times reports.

Mendelson said he would add the language to a budget rider bill so it could take effect more quickly than if the council had to enact a whole new law, because it would need to go through rounds of readings and legislative sessions, which the council does on a monthly basis.

In January, the D.C. Council passed the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, which they said was necessary to make sure businesses didn’t fire employees because a woman got an abortion or demote a man because his wife is on birth control.

Though, critics argued the bill would disrespect the constitutional rights of D.C. residents by forcing business owners to provide insurance coverage for things that violate their religious beliefs.

According to federal law, any law passed by the city council in D.C. has to go before Congress for a 30-day review period, during which time Congress can block the legislation with a joint-resolution.

Members of Congress attempted to block the legislation, and while a disapproval resolution passed a House vote, the Senate didn’t have time to call a vote, and President Barack Obama said he would veto any legislation that made it to his desk.

In spite of this defeat, congressional Republicans have vowed to fight the law and are pushing for Congress to block funding for the implementation of any regulations related to the law.

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